Post updated on 20/10/2020

The past months I was receiving questions about the situation of Greece regarding the coronavirus issue. Many readers want to hear and to read more about the current situation and what measures Greece has taken regarding tourism in Greece this summer.

I am going to update this post as often as possible and I am also going to answer to your questions, so feel free to ask me on the comments and I will add the information on the post.

I will try to use official information and I will put sources as this is a very important subject.

What happened till today in Greece because of the coronavirus pandemic?

Greece got in total lockdown on 13th March and they started lifting the restrictions on 5th of May.

This happened in spite that on that point the coronavirus cases were quite low, around 190 and 1 death was reported at that date (data by Worldometer). Getting the tough measures so early, I think it was quite critical and helped to flatten the curve and keep the cases and most importantly the deaths quite low.

This gave time to the government to prepare the health system and increase the health personnel and get more ICU beds, monitors, respirators etc. (Data by Health System Response Monitor (HSRM))

As of 20th October, Greece reports 26.469 cases and 528 deaths. More information about the daily statistic you can find on Worldometer website here.

Note that from 28th July there is an increase in coronavirus cases and the government has taken even more measures, like a compulsory use of masks in almost every enclosed space and local lockdowns, like in Mykonos and other islands – see below.

On 20/10, 667 new coronavirus cases were announced.

What are the restrictions inside Greece because of Coronavirus?

Greece started lifting the coronavirus measures on 4th May. 

  • On 28th July, Greece has announced new regulations regarding the use of face coverings which had until now only been compulsory in supermarkets and on public transport. A mask or facial cover is mandatory in supermarkets and all food stores (bakeries, butchers), all retail stores, all forms of public transportation, taxis, elevators, hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers, banks, public sector services offices, hair and beauty salons and other enclosed spaces. Some regions have made face coverings mandatory in outdoor areas as well. The fine for not wearing a mask in areas where it is required is 150 euros.
  • Source: US Embassy in Greece

Source: Kathimerini News

Local Restrictions

Local measures and restrictions

As well as the nationwide measures on the mandatory use of masks and restrictions on public spaces and services detailed above, the Greek authorities are likely to impose additional local coronavirus-related restrictions in certain areas, if they perceive a heightened case-rate or other valid reason, in relation to that area. You should monitor the situation regularly via media and other information sources, including your accommodation or travel provider. This page will be regularly updated with details of specific local restrictions in place. The Greek government’s website contains a regularly-updated interactive map setting out region-by-region measures (currently available only in Greek).

Attica (including Athens, and the islands of Angistri, Aegina, Hydra, Kythira, Poros, Salamis, and Spetses)

Local restrictions are in place in the regions of Attica, which includes the islands of Angistri, Aegina, Hydra, Kythira, Poros, Salamis and Spetses. These include:

  • Mandatory use of face masks in all indoor public spaces;
  • Mandatory use of face masks in all work-places;
  • Mandatory use of face masks in crowded outdoor areas where minimum social distancing (of 1.5 metres) cannot be maintained, such as in public squares, at bus stops etc.;
  • Strong recommendation for anyone aged 65 and over to self-isolate, whilst limiting their movement to only what is absolutely necessary, avoiding contact with anyone other than members of their immediate family and avoiding use of public transport;
  • Strong recommendation for the use of face masks by everyone in all outdoor spaces; limits on the capacity of public markets, and outdoor cinema and theatre screenings ;
  • A maximum limit of 50 people are allowed to attend weddings, christenings or funerals;
  • A ban on gatherings of more than 9 people, either indoors or outdoors (besides religious ceremonies as outlined above);
  • A ban on the holding of any concerts, and on indoor cinema and theatre screenings;
  • Prohibition of operation of all food/catering sector-related shops, services and facilities from midnight – 7am the next day;
  • Prohibition of retail shops opening before 10am (this measure does not apply to food and drink outlets, such as supermarkets, grocery stores and bakeries);
  • A limit of 4 people per table in any restaurant, except for cases where the party consists of family members, where the limit is 6 people;

Pella, Pieria, Imathia, Kilkis, Lesvos, Zakynthos (Zante), Mykonos, Halkidiki, Chania and Heraklion (Crete)

Local restrictions in place:

  • Suspension of all entertainment events involving the presence of public.
  • Prohibition of operation for restaurants, bars, clubs, entertainment venues etc. starting midnight until 5am.
  • Suspension of all retail sale of goods, such as kiosks, mini markets (including those located in gas stations), liquor stores, tobacco stores, grocery stores, bakeries, confectioneries starting midnight until 5am. Pharmacies, gas stations and vending machines are excluded, except for sale of alcoholic beverages.
  • Operation of outdoor grocery markets at 50% capacity, with mandatory use of a mask for producers and consumers, with a distance of 5 meters between the counters.
  • Suspension of operation for all outdoor markets.
  • In restaurants/bars etc. a maximum number of 4 people per table is allowed, unless they are first degree relatives where up to 6 people are allowed.
  • Mandatory use of mask both outdoors and indoors, as well as on public transport
  • A maximum of 50 people are allowed in all public and social events and gatherings.

Kythnos, Kozani, Loannina and Achaia

  • Suspension of all entertainment events involving the presence of public;
  • Prohibition of operation for restaurants, bars, clubs, entertainment venues etc. starting midnight until 5am;
  • Suspension of all retail sale of goods, such as kiosks, mini markets (including those located in gas stations), liquor stores, tobacco stores, grocery stores, bakeries, confectioneries starting midnight until 5am. Pharmacies, gas stations and vending machines are excluded, except for sale of alcoholic beverages;
  • Operation of outdoor grocery markets at 50% capacity, with mandatory use of a mask for producers and consumers, with a distance of 5 meters between the counters;
  • Suspension of operation for all outdoor markets;
  • In restaurants/bars etc. a maximum number of 4 people per table is allowed, unless they are first degree relatives where up to 6 people are allowed;
  • Mandatory use of mask both outdoors and indoors, as well as on public transport;
  • A maximum limit of 50 people are allowed to attend weddings, christenings or funerals;
  • A ban on gatherings of more than 9 people, either indoors or outdoors (besides religious ceremonies as outlined above);
  • Prohibition of all gatherings of over 9 people for any reason, both in public and in private

Thessaloniki, East Macedonia & Thrace, Larissa, Corfu, Karditsa, Trikala, Volos, Rethymnon, Lashithi, Paros & Antiparos, Santorini, Rhodes, Kos:

  • Restaurants, bars and entertainment venues will remain closed from midnight to 7am
  • A ban of gatherings of more than 50 people, either indoors and outdoors.

This list of areas may be expanded.

Source: UK Government

What about the measures that are related to travelling to Greece, like flights, hotels and ferries?

Hotels

The hotels that have a license to be open 12 months a year opened on 1 June. On 15th June all the seasonal hotels opened as well. Note that some of the hotels might don’t open for this season so you can check directly with them.

Flights

  • Restrictions from entering Greece from outside the European Union (including the United States) remain in place.
  • On August 7, the European Union Council recommended a list of non-EU countries whose residents may be permitted to enter.  The United States is NOT on this list.  If you RESIDE in one of these countries (a visit is not residence), contact the Greek Embassy in the country of your residence to verify your documents will permit you to enter Greece.  The EU Council will review this list every 15 days
  • Your residence, not your passport, determines whether you can enter the EU.  If you reside in the EU or one of the 14 countries, you may enter Greece.  The Greek authorities have not detailed the requirements for proving residence.  If you do not have a permanent residence (e.g., nomadic lifestyle, live on a boat, etc.), you must contact the closest Greek Embassy or consulate for clarification.
  • Exceptions to the travel ban include spouses or minor children of EU/Schengen nationals, long-term residents, members of government delegations and passengers in transit.  Consult with your airline regarding any documents they may require to board you.  You must contact the nearest Greek Embassy or consulate if you believe you have a compelling travel reason.
  • Most of the internal flights to islands are operational.  Contact the airlines directly for the schedule and possible travel requirements, such as masks.

From Friday September 18 until Wednesday September 30, those traveling to Greece by air from Hungary will be allowed to enter the country only by presenting a negative Covid-19 test result. The test must be taken 72 hours before arrival.

– The suspension of flights between Greece and Turkey has been extended until September 30 at midnight.

– The aviation directive that sees all flights to and from Greece from Albania and North Macedonia operating only through Athens International Airport (AIA) has been extended until September 30 at 23:59. There will be no routes to any other Greek airports.

– The aviation directive that states that all travelers visiting Greece by air from Bulgaria, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, Malta, Belgium, Spain, Albania and North Macedonia, will be allowed admission into Greece only by presenting a negative Covid-19 test result, has been extended until September 30. The test must be taken 72 hours before arrival.

– Travelers to Greece from Sweden will be subject to sample testing for Covid-19 upon arrival until September 30.

– The aviation directive that bans entry to Greece for non-EU Citizens has been extended until September 30. Citizens from the following 11 countries are excluded from the ban: Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates.

– The aviation directive concerning travelers from Israel has been extended until September 30. According to the directive, all travelers entering Greece from Israel are obliged to present a negative molecular test result (PCR) for coronavirus, taken 72 hours before arrival. All permanent residents of Israel entering Greece will be subject to testing again. Only 5,000 people per week are allowed to enter Greece on flights from Israel arriving to the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Corfu and Kos, excluding arrivals at other airports in the country.

– The temporary suspension of all passenger flights between Greece and the region of Catalonia in Spain has been extended until September 30.

– It is reminded that the aviation directive concerning travelers from Russia is valid until September 21. According to the directive, all travelers entering Greece from Russia are obliged to present a negative molecular test result (PCR) for coronavirus. All permanent residents of Russia entering Greece will be subject to testing again. Only 500 people per week are allowed to enter Greece on flights from Russia arriving to the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki and Heraklion.

Greek repatriation programs are excluded from all the aforementioned directives.

News: News GTP

Ferries

Travel by ferry to and from islands is permitted.  Masks are required.  Passengers must complete a health status questionnaire and submit to a temperature check prior to boarding for trips longer than 30 minutes.  The form is available here in English and Greek, most ferry operator websites, and at the ports.

Land borders

The Bulgarian Promachonas border station is open.  All entrants must have a doctor’s certificate written in English and a negative molecular test for COVID-19 conducted no more than 72 hours prior.  The land borders with Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey are closed with no projected opening date.

Source: US Embassy in Greece

What should I know before travelling to Greece?

Beginning July 1, 2020, the Greek government has determined how the country will welcome travelers, carry out the necessary diagnostic screening and keep everyone safe throughout the season.

The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) is a key element in the planning. As of July 9th 2020, travelers that are allowed to visit Greece must complete their PLF at least 24 hours before entering the country, providing detailed information on their point of departure, the duration of previous stays in other countries, and the address of their stay while in Greece. In case of multiple stays, they are required to provide the address for the first 24 hours at least.
Travelers will receive a confirmation email upon submission of the PLF.
Travelers will receive the PLF with their unique Quick Response (QR)  code on the day of their scheduled arrival in Greece (at midnight) and will be notified via email (the QR code will be provided in a link in the confirmation email).

The PLF can also be found on the Visit Greece app and at travel.gov.gr/#/

It is strongly recommended that all visitors download the Visit Greece app (GDPR compliant) for free, prior their arrival in Greece.

Protocol for air arrivals

· Arrival at the entry gate.

· Transfer to the area where the screening personnel are located. Travellers are requested to show their QR code either on their mobile phone screen or in print. If travel departure begins prior to the day of arrival, travellers are allowed to board after showing the confirmation email (and not necessarily the QR code which is scheduled to arrive during their trip.)

· Depending on their QR code/confirmation, travellers are directed either to the screening area where they will be tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team or to the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).

· Upon completion of the test, travellers are directed towards the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).

· The test results are expected to become available within 24 hours. During that time, passengers who are tested are advised to practise social distancing according to local guidelines and self monitoring for symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. In case of such symptoms, medical advice and/or contact with the National Public Health Organization (EODY) Operations Centre should be immediately sought. Only in case they test positive, the authorities will contact them and proceed with the health protocol in place. Otherwise, they may continue with their holidays, adhering to the general public health safety guidelines.

· If travellers plan to have multiple stop-overs in Greece, they must declare this and report their initial destination and their travel itinerary for the next 7 days.

All travellers must comply with all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical distancing) according to local guidance.

Protocol for sea arrivals

· Arrival of incoming travellers on foot at the main entry gate.

· Incoming travellers arriving in vehicles are directed to the special entry gate.

· Transfer to the area where the screening personnel are located. Travellers are requested to show their QR code either on their mobile phone screen or in print. If travel departure begins prior to the day of arrival, travellers are allowed to board after showing the confirmation email (and not necessarily the QR code which is scheduled to arrive during their trip.)

· Depending on their QR code/confirmation, travellers are directed either to the screening area where they will be tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team or to the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).

· Upon completion of the test, travelers are directed towards the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).

· The test results are expected to become available within 24 hours. During that time, passengers who are tested are advised to practise social distancing according to local guidelines and self monitoring for symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. In case of such symptoms, medical advice and/or contact with the National Public Health Organization (EODY) Operations Centre should be immediately sought. Only in case they test positive, the authorities will contact them and proceed with the health protocol in place. Otherwise, they may continue with their holidays, adhering to the general public health safety guidelines.

· If travellers plan to have multiple stop-overs in Greece, they must declare this and report their initial destination and their travel itinerary for the next 7 days.

All travellers must comply with all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical distancing) according to local guidance.

Protocol for arrivals at land borders

· Arrival of persons at the checkpoint.

· Passport and customs control are carried out.

· Transfer to the area where screening personnel is located. Travellers are requested to show their QR code either on their mobile phone screen or in print.

· Screening personnel direct travellers, depending on their QR code, either to the screening area where they will be tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team or to the exit. Upon completion of the screening, tested travellers are also directed towards the exit.

· The screening results are expected to become available within 24 hours. During that time, passengers who are tested are advised to practise social distancing according to local guidelines and self monitoring for symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. In case of such symptoms, medical advice and/or contact with the National Public Health Organization (EODY) Operations Centre should be immediately sought. Only in case they test positive, the authorities will contact them and proceed with the health protocol in place. Otherwise, they may continue with their holidays, adhering to the general public health safety guidelines.

· If travellers plan to have multiple stop-overs in Greece, they must declare this and report their initial destination and their travel itinerary for the next 7 days.

All travellers must comply with all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical/social distancing) according to local guidance.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Greece

Ok, I will fly to Greece but what preparations have been made regarding the healthcare capacity of the most touristy destinations?

It has been announced that authorities are boosting the healthcare capacity of several tourist destinations by providing tests and doctors, as well as an operational plan for the handling of possible infections (a hotel doctor, quarantine areas and transfer to a health facility).

Source: Kathimerini News

Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias presented on 12/06/2020 a detailed action plan which involves an interconnected network of emergency health care and medical services linking Greece’s islands with the mainland as well as specific guidelines for the transport by air or sea of infected individuals.

“We are covering every possible case, providing multiple options for testing as well as to address a possible incident depending on a variety of factors including distance, tourist flows, weather,” said Kikilias.

More specifically, this is the plan about the Coronavirus in Greek islands according to the ministry plan:

-All of the country’s islands now have access to medical services either on location or via transport to the nearest facility.

-All hospitals, healthcare units or centers on the islands will be operating on a 24-hour basis.

-The number of medical and health care staff stationed on the islands has been increased.

-446 beds and 19 Intensive Care Units (ICU) for Covid-19 cases have been secured for the islands with the capacity to increase to 674 and 79, respectively should the need arise.

-Health centers as well as floating medical units are working together with NGOs to carry out extensive sample testing while mobile health facilities will be conducting tests, collecting data for epidemiological research and tracking information.

-Syros and Rhodes will be equipped with PCR testing units with smaller units on smaller islands.

-The National Center for Emergency Assistance (EKAB) has been equipped with isolation capsules for the safe transport by air ensuring a sanitary care environment for highly contagious patients.

-Medical air transportation services will be carried out by helicopters and planes of the Greek Air Force and the Civil Protection secretariat, marine means of the port authorities, and via private means.

According to the Greek health ministry’s plan:

Hospitals open 24/7
Santorini, Mytilini, Rhodes, Samos, Syros, Chios, Ikaria, Kalymnos, Kythira, Kos, Limnos, Naxos, Leros, Halkida, Karystos, Kymi, Zakynthos, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Lixouri, Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Rethymno, Chania, Ierapetra, Neapoli, Sitia

Hospitals with Covid-19 ICU
Mytilini, Rhodes, Samos, Syros, Chios, Zakynthos, Corfu, Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Chania

Health centers
Aegina, Andros, Ios, Karpathos, Milos, Mykonos, Paros, Patmos, Milos, Amorgos, Samothrace, Thassos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Ithaki, Paxi, Tinos, Salamina

Source: GreekReporter

If you have any specific question, please leave me a comment and I will reply as soon as possible.